Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, is the center of art and culture. This beautiful city is famed for its elegance and rich heritage. Royalty is in the veins of Lucknow, as it has served as the seat of Nawabs for a very long time. Being the capital city of ancient Awadh, it has been home to the fabulous art and wonderful culture. The awe-inspiring monuments and fascinating architecture have left everyone spellbound. The famous art of Zardozi and Chikan embroidery have made their way in the global market. Lucknow has tehzeeb flowing in its air. The city got its grandeur from the ancient rule of Nawabs. Lucknow has been the seat to many Nawabs, who have given Lucknow the name it has today. During the 139 years of Awadh regime many rulers reigned from where the city got its name:
1. Nawab Saadat Ali Khan
Born in 1680, he was the first Nawab of Awadh after the decline of Mughal Empire. He was the Subahdar Nawab of Awadh. He ruled from 1722, until his death in 1739. Sadat Ali Khan 1’s father became a very prominent official during the rule of Bahadur Shah. He is the beginner of Nawabs of Awadh.
Abul Mansur Mirza Muhammad Muqim Ali Khan, born in 1708. He succeeded his uncle, Saadat Ali Khan, to the throne of Awadh. He got the title of “Safdarjung” by the Mughal Emperor Mahmood Shah. He attained a lot of appreciation for his effective work and great administration. He passed away in 1754, ending his reign.
Succeeding his father, ‘Safdarjung’ from 1754, he ruled till 1775. He is famous for his prominent role in two important battles of history. The 3rd Battle of Panipat and the Battle of Buxar. He is believed to be a great Vizier and a great warrior too. Shuja-Ud-Daula died in 1755 and was buried in Faizabad, the then capital of Awadh. His burial place is a tomb named Gulab Bari.
He became Nawab at a very young age on the death of his father. Believed to be one of the greatest Nawabs, he brought many changes in the empire of Awadh. He changed the capital of Awadh from Faizabad to Lucknow and built various monuments in and around Lucknow including the Bada Imambara. Under his rule, the court of Lucknow flourished and acquired great splendour. He built the great Rumi Darwaza and the Daulat Khana. He died on 21st September 1797 in Lucknow and is buried at Bara Imambara, Lucknow.
5. Asif Jah Mirza
Also known as, Wazir Ali Khan, was the adopted son of Asaf-Ud-Daula. After the death of his adopted father in September 1797 he ascended to the throne, with the support of the British. Within four months of his reign, he was accused of being unfaithful and was replaced by his uncle Saadat Ali Khan 2. He surrendered to the British authorities in December 1799 and was placed in rigorous confinement at Fort William, Calcutta.
6. Saadat Ali Khan 2
He was of Persian origin and was a great personality. His immense interest in art has brought Lucknow to be beautiful then and now. Most of the buildings between the Kaiserbagh and Dilkusha were constructed by him. Nawab Saadat Ali Khan died in 1814 and he was buried with his wife Khursheed Zadi at Kaiser Bagh.
Many great Nawabs came to throne after him, but the next great Nawab came to be the wife of Wajid Ali Shah, Begum Hazrat Mahal
7. Begum Hazrat Mahal
The first wife of Wajid Ali Shah, who took the throne after her husband was sent to exile by the British in Calcutta. She took charge of Lucknow and arranged for her son too. But being the lady in charge, she was repelled by the masses and was forced to abandon her role after a short reign. She rebelled against the British East India Company during the Indian rebellion of 1857. She finally went to Nepal where she died in 1879.
Lucknow has been the abode to many nawab families and still, the descendants of the Nawabs are residing in Lucknow. Awadh, the strongest empire during the British period, was freed along with the whole of India in 1947. The Nawabi gesture and hospitality of the people makes everyone fall in love with this ‘city of Nawabs’.